Saturday, June 28, 2008


man as god

i was in singapore -that most boring country in the world - several months ago and i was walking around a particularly bad part of this city state when i came across an interesting site. among the rows of old two storey houses in geylang area there is a small chinese temple. or what looks like it. i hardly know anything about chinese religion so to call this a temple is probabaly not correct because it doesn't look like a normal temple so it is probably just a big size shrine to chinese dieties.

there are the usual chinese gods with long flowing black beards glowering in the thick joss stick smoke but what makes this shrine particularly interesting is that the most prominent part of the place is taken up by what looked like a small model of a mosque with the onion shaped dome and two small minarets. inside this little mosque is a statue of a turbaned old man. his name is written in arabic scripts . and he is a haji. in front of this statue are the usual chinese offerings to ancestors , joss sticks, oranges and apples, a pack of cigarettes.

i've been told that this is not that unusual. what it means is that the haji who once lived here is now recognized as a revered 'dato' and the penunggu of the place and as chinese is wont to do, they pay homage to good ancestors - especially if he occasionaly gives the right four digit numbers and so forth. the short of it is that if this statue keeps on giving good numbers or babies to barren women who come to pray to him, he'll be on the way to probably be promoted to a demi god status (if he's not one already) like those nine old warriors who saved china in ancient time and now highly revered as demi gods and reside way up there in the big dippers.

to elevate a muslim as some sort of a god is ironical to say the least. it is in fact completely offensive because the one thing that the muslims are most strict about is shirk or syirik which means ascribing partners to the one and only god. but of course there's no stopping non muslims elevating anyone including muslims to god status if they so desire.

and that's one of the main reasons why muslims and christians are at each other's throat since day one. and in fact the main reason why the religion of islam exist at all is to 'straighten' this little detail. muslims don't like en. esa bin yusuf otherwise known as jesus to be revered as god. part time or other wise.

but all this is quite understandable. humankind has this innate desire to worship things. can be women, money, frogs, elephants , fellow humans, stones. jimi hendrix. all kind of things. when we get something ,we have this virtue of wanting to give thanks in return.

by the way, if you happen to be in bangkok , there is a very nice puppet show theatre near suan lum night market and recently they have this impressive puppet show about the birth of ganesha, the elephant headed hindu goddess. 'the first organ transplant in the world' quipped one of my hindu friends from india who watched this show with me.

and i was with one chinese friend visiting pura besakih in bali several years ago when on the way down he noticed one statue that he claimed to be a chinese deity in one of those little structures they put dieties and offerings in. and he started explaining to me why chinese do ancestor worships. which is all very fine.

but since we are doing all this worshipping things, i guess it's only logical if we update the list of gods to suit our time and our modern lives and needs. and i was watching an excellent interview of bill gates by tom brokow just now and i most definitely think that if there's any human to be worshipped, it has to be him. (it'd be a good idea to include the guy that invent you tube and napster to be added as minor gods).

i particularly like bill gates not only because he's such a big philanthropist and a genius but i think he's the single most important person that change our lives in the modern age. i really like the description of him in an earlier interview here . he's described as part thomas edison, part henry ford and part holden caulfield of catcher in the rye.

and i love holden caulfield. i wished somebody tell him where all those geese fly to in winter.

You're funny! I had a good time reading your posts...
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